Art Term

New British sculpture

The term New British sculpture applies to the work of young British sculptors in the 1980s who, in reaction to minimal and conceptual art, adopted a more traditional approach to materials, techniques and imagery

Richard Deacon, ‘After’ 1998
Richard Deacon
After 1998
Tate
© Tate
Anish Kapoor, ‘As if to Celebrate, I Discovered a Mountain Blooming with Red Flowers’ 1981
Anish Kapoor
As if to Celebrate, I Discovered a Mountain Blooming with Red Flowers 1981
Tate
© Anish Kapoor
Antony Gormley, ‘Bed’ 1980–1
Antony Gormley
Bed 1980–1
Tate
© Antony Gormley

Around 1980 there can be seen to have been a general reaction in western art to the predominance of minimal and conceptual art in the previous decade. In painting this reaction took the form of neo-expressionism and related phenomena. In sculpture there was a notable return to the use of a wide range of techniques of fabrication and even the use of traditional materials and methods such as carving in stone and marble. Figurative and metaphoric imagery reappeared together with poetic or evocative titles.

In Britain a strong group of young sculptors emerged whose work although quite disparate, quickly became known as new British sculpture.

The principal artists associated with New British Sculpture were Stephen Cox, Tony Cragg, Barry Flanagan, Antony Gormley, Richard Deacon, Shirazeh Houshiary, Anish Kapoor, Alison Wilding and Bill Woodrow.